From the All Progressives Congress (APC), yesterday, came a stern warning to the Presidency: Shelve any plan to arrest the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Aminu Tambuwal.
The opposition party said government would be pouring petrol on naked fire if Tambuwal was arrested. The warning was issued on a day the National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, and the police denied that any move to arrest the Speaker was being contemplated.
Meanwhile, the Presidency washed its hands off the Thursday’s police invasion of the National Assembly to stop the Speaker and his colleagues from gaining access into the parliament.
”Published reports have corroborated what we know: That the plan on Thursday was to prevent Tambuwal from entering the National Assembly to pave the way for his Deputy, Emeke Ihedioha, who had already been allowed into the House, to preside over the removal of the Speaker. Were it not so, why would the police even try to seize the mace from the Sergeant-at-arms, as reported? Why would the police detain the Sergeant-at-arms for his refusal? What is the business of the police with the mace, which is the House’s symbol of authority?,”the APC said, yesterday, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
The statement went on: ”It has also now been corroborated that the plan hatched by the PDP and the Presidency was to give Tambuwal the ”Ekiti treatment”, in which seven PDP members removed the Speaker in a 26-member House of Assembly. But for the quick thinking and action by the honorable members who scaled the gate to access the assembly, that plan would have succeeded and Tambuwal would have been removed as Speaker, the consequences of which no one would have been able to foretell.
”Therefore, instead of pillorying those who scaled the gate, we should be commending them for risking their lives to save our democracy. Those who shut the gate against the lawmakers and barred them from carrying out their constitutional duties are the villains, not the honorable members who acted in the nation’s interest.”
The opposition party said the “ceaseless hounding of Tambuwal by President Goodluck Jonathan and the PDP is patently provocative, to say the least, and calls into question the stated commitment of the Jonathan administration to the rule of law.”
”In the eyes of the law, Rt. Hon. Tambuwal remains the Speaker of the House of Representatives, despite his defection from the PDP to the APC. No matter what the PDP and the Presidency may feel, they are not the court of law, which is the only body that can make a definite pronouncement on the fate of the Speaker,” the APC argued.
”The Speaker also remains the number two man in the hierarchy of the legislative arm of government, which is distinct from the executive arm headed by the President. It is therefore not only unconstitutional but also anti-democratic and anarchic for the PDP-led government of President Goodluck Jonathan to continue to hound the Speaker and desecrate the hallowed chambers of the National Assembly, using the police force that has now become the enforcement arm of the ruling party, having dropped all pretences to neutrality and professionalism.”
The party said at a time the political atmosphere has become so charged by the government-backed police assault on the National Assembly, it is a perilous game to seek to arrest the Speaker, for whatever reason, unless of course the administration is bent on deliberately plunging the nation into crisis.
”It is difficult to fathom the reason behind the government’s increasing resort to recklessness, but it may not be unconnected with the rising desperation by the ruling PDP to hold on to power at all cost. Perhaps now that it has started seeing the handwriting on the wall with Nigerians clamouring for change, this government may be tilting towards its last option of throwing the nation into crisis to prevent the 2015 elections from holding.
”We are therefore calling on all men and women of good conscience, especially those who have the ears of the President, to prevail on him not to push the nation into any worse crisis than it is currently encountering. With terrorists daily killing and maiming Nigerians, forcing more than 1.5 million people to flee their homes and threatening the nation’s territorial integrity, the government’s trifling is baffling, and should stop forthwith.”
‘Security agents raided APC offices’
The party, also yesterday, alleged that its offices in Lagos were raided by security agents who, it claimed, destroyed a dozen computers.
The APC condemned the alleged invasion it called “perhaps the worst political scandal in Nigeria’s history”, and demanded independent inquiry to fish out those behind it.
Giving details of the invasion, the APC, in another statement, said, in the early hours of yesterday, a combined team of men of the DSS and OP-MESA stormed the Bola Ajibola Data Centre belonging to the APC in the Ikeja area of Lagos and arrested 25 APC data agents and three security guards.
”In what was a gestapo-like operation, the APC membership data centre located at Number 10, Bola Ajibola Street, off Allen Avenue, Ikeja, came under siege between the hours of 5:30 am and 7:30 am on Saturday. An operation of terror and brigandage was unleashed on a legitimate operation of a leading national party. They came without a search warrant for the premises. Over 50 security operatives drafted from Abuja operations blocked the two major street entrances to the APC data entry centre, pulled down the gates and spent over 2 hours ransacking and vandalizing the centre”, the party said.
”More than a dozen computers were destroyed. The server was also vandalized along with other equipment in the building. Just like the Watergate Scandal in the USA, the state-sponsored security operatives apparently acting at the behest of the ruling PDP government, turned the office upside down, and pulled out and vandalized everything in sight.
”If the PDP-led government and the security agents had done due diligence and acted professionally, they would have known that the APC data centre is a legitimate operation and the staff are Nigerian youths who were left jobless by the Jonathan government. Apart from the Lagos centre, the operation is decentralized and similar centres are functional in about six different locations around the country.
”They chose to believe the lie that it was a warehouse belonging to one of the national leaders of the party where dangerous weapons were being kept, when in fact it is a centre for entering the data provided by the millions of Nigerians who registered as members of the party during its membership registration exercise.”
It described the invasion as another act of impunity.
APC called the invasion of the offices an attempt to suppress the opposition, get details of its membership with the intention of using it to rig the 2015 elections and also to destroy the spirit of democracy.
”When on Oct. 6, 2013, we issued a statement alerting Nigerians that the Jonathan administration was using Rivers State as a testing ground for creeping fascism ahead of the 2015 elections, some said we were raising a false alarm, “the party said.
”Well, here we are. In the past five months, the PDP-led government has stepped up its acts of impunity and terror against the leaders of the APC and all non-PDP actors. Elected officers, who are not PDP members, have had their rights repeatedly violated by the police and other security operatives. Never before has an elected government been so scared of the opposition to the point of shutting it down.
”Now that they have overreached themselves by attacking the offices of the main opposition party and destroying part of its membership database, can the PDP-led government still claim to be operating under the rule of law? Can the government sincerely tell the world it is now ready for free and fair elections in 2015? This is one impunity too many, and we will not allow it to be swept under the carpet.”
`No arrest order’
“In apparent reference to the arrest move claim, the Office of the NSA, yesterday, described as unfair and total falsehood “the report in some media that the National Security Adviser (NSA), Sambo Dasuki, ordered the arrest of Aminu Waziri Tambuwal at a meeting with Vice President Namadi Sambo and Inspector General of Police Suleman Abba”.
The Director, Special Duties in the Office of NSA, Colonel Bello Fadile (rtd), stated this in a statement.
“It is not only untrue and mere fabricated reports that the NSA met with the VP and ordered the arrest of Hon Tambuwal, the fact is that the National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, has been outside the country since Wednesday on pressing national security issues”, the statement said.
“To the best of our knowledge, there is no order for the arrest of Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of the House of Representatives.
“We therefore urge the media to always cross-check their stories before going to press.”
Police spokesman, DCP Emmanuel Ojukwu, also denied any move to arrest Tambuwal.
“It lies with the investigators to determine who should be quizzed and/or prosecuted, as the case may be for criminal acts”, Ojukwu stated.
‘Leave Jonathan out of NASS invasion’
Yesterday, the Presidency said Jonathan did not authorise the Thursday’s police invasion of the National Assembly.
“The matter is being investigated; we should await the outcome of the investigations and so I urge that we should all refrain from saying anything that may be prejudicial, partisan or uninformed as some people are already doing, which may then turn out to be incorrect. But I can tell you that President Jonathan did not authorise any form of assault on the National Assembly. He has no hand in it. The police authorities themselves have said that they acted on their own, based on information that some thugs were planning to cause mayhem and compromise the safety of lawmakers. Let the police explain exactly what happened. And they have said they will. This is certainly not about President Jonathan. He has a very excellent relationship with the National Assembly”, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati, told Sunday Vanguard in an interview.
Senate Minority Whip condemns invasion
In a related development, the Senate Minority Whip and Chairman of the upper legislative chamber Committee on Capital Market, Senator Ganiyu Olanrewaju Solomon (GOS), condemned in strongest terms the parliament invasion.
Solomon, running for governor in Lagos State on the platform of the APC said in Lagos, yesterday, that the police attack on the federal lawmakers was the height of executive lawlessness and interference.
He noted that the invasion of the hallowed chambers was a signal that the police might not be impartial in the February 2015 general election.
The front-runner aspirant called on the Inspector-General of Police, Suleiman Abba, to maintain neutrality in political matters and remain impartial in contests among the political parties.
Solomon, who was a member of the House of Representatives before being elected to the Senate, pointed out that the issue of the defection and speakership of Tambuwal should be left to the members to resolve and not the executive coming into it to muscle him out of office.
Speaking in the same vein, yesterday, a former Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Abibakar Tsav, lamented that officers of the police were being reduced to thugs by desperate politicians, to breach the laws of Nigeria.
Tsav cautioned: “The use of the police against perceived opposition will usher in anarchy”.
He said what was exhibited at the National Assembly, on Thursday, was not only disgraceful and shameful but showed immaturity and intolerance by the Peoples